It must have been around 1.30am when I woke up needing a pee. I rolled over to get out of bed but some force of gravity pushed me back down into the centre of the mattress. I could not remember there being an enormous sag in the bed that Antonio had gifted us, but then, by the time we eventually got upstairs, we were both so exhausted that our heads had barely touched the pillows before we were transported deep into the land of Nod. This bed was more hammock than mattress, and the ancient bedsprings creaked noisily at my every move.Fearful of rolling on top of Irishman and waking him, my only solution was to grasp the brass bedstead with both hands and haul myself up into a sitting position before lowering my legs over the side.

ensconced

montefrio-road

The floor tiles were chilly as I made my way barefooted across the room in search of my shoes but fortunately the tea-light candles that I’d lit at bedtime were still burning so finding them was an easier task than might have been. Still half asleep, I forgot to duck my head when going through the bedroom door and received a hard whack on my head from the lintel, which in turn left me dazed so that I completely misjudged the height of the step down onto the landing and fell into a heap at the top of the stairs. Whoever it was that designed this old house, must have had a wicked sense of humour; for every step has been built for giants, and every door for dwarves. Shocked awake, I negotiated the remaining stairs in the dark, fumbling my way down into the sitting room and made for the front door. Since most of the door was already off it’s hinges, it meant adopting a lifting and dragging technique to get it to open without it entirely coming off it’s hinges and falling off into my arms.

brass-bed

I stepped out into the dark autumn night, lifted up my nightdress, and parked my large backside down onto the plastic bucket. As I gazed up at the sky, its myriad stars twinkled and the sweet sound of cicadas serenaded me as I relieved myself. Sat there, I wondered why people make such a fuss about en-suite bathrooms.

The following morning I was rudely woken by the sound of lots of smashing glass and the noisy alarm from a truck as it reversed BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! For a good five minutes all I could hear was noisy clunking, banging, and thudding as the council men emptied the village bottle bank and recycling bins situated a handy stone’s throw from our front door. Just as I was beginning to entertain thoughts of a NIMBY * nature, it occurred to me that I could have a lot of fun with my future collection of empty Rioja bottles. I fancied that if I stood at one of the upstairs windows, I could save myself the walk of all of twenty-five steps by trying to lob my empties into the portholes situated on the sides of the bottle bank. On that cheery note I went downstairs to fire up the camping stove and put the kettle on.
Whilst I was waiting for it to boil, I wandered round the yard making mental notes of all the things that I wanted to do. Pull a wall down here; build a wall up there, pots around the sides, and tiles on the walls…

flowers

pedro

Irishman, on hearing the whistling kettle, soon came downstairs and joined me. He downed a cup of coffee and then said he was off to the bar for a crap. ‘Do you really, really have too?’ I begged, ‘Please, can’t you do it in the bucket like me? No, he was absolutely insistent that he was prepared to put up with most of the inconveniences of our new home but using a bucket, as a toilet was a step too far. I prayed that Paco and Antonia were still fast asleep and wouldn’t witness my husband skulking across their yard with a roll of toilet paper and a book under his arm.

bathroom

By 10am the first of the builders arrived, followed by various plumbers, and electricians. I’d written everything down that we needed doing urgently, namely to get a bathroom installed, hot water, a kitchen and re-wiring. By mid-afternoon the last of them had gone. Now it was simply a matter of waiting for them to send us quotes. I went back inside the house and wished that we had ten times the amount of money so that we could afford to get everything fixed. Some of the windows had no glass in them, there was a gaping hole in an outside wall and I could see that before long the roof was going to need fixing due to ominous stains on a few of the ceilings. Only when the winter rains came would we know for sure.

camping-stove

Suddenly there was loud shouting and banging on the courtyard door ‘Lottie y Pedro!’ ‘Lottie y Pedro! Pronto! Pronto!’ We opened the door and there was Paco who was clearly upset and worried about something. Due to our not very advanced Spanish, we were not entirely sure what he was trying to tell us. He was gesticulating madly, and getting more and more excited, possibly something about a car? Our car? Irishman and I both looked looked over to where our car was parked at the front of the house, it had vanished.

*NIMBY Not in my backyard

38 Comments

  1. I cannot take it anymore… I am packing up the family and joining your on your adventure! So exciting. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for more, and when I finally get it.. you make me anxious for more! Where the hell did the car go???

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    1. Haha!! wait and see! I promise not to leave the next instalment too long – in fact I may even start to write it tonight. Look out for the title ‘Which Juan? That Juan or This Juan?’ 😀 xx

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  2. Oy! My eyes were playing tricks on me…I thought the title was “Buckets Of Fire” and, well, I am sure you can figure out the rest. 👿

    So I am guessing that some well meaning neighbor decided to detail your car for you? 😀

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    1. NOoooo! Not fire buckets, oh hell no! years and years ago we had a house fire, it was terrible an absolute nightmare but thankfully none of us were hurt. Never again! I’ll crack on with the next instalment and all shall be revealed about ‘me motor!

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      1. Noooo!!!!! I meant how you are using the buckets and having possibly had chili or the like.the night before. I try not to even imagine in my wildest misunderstandings a house fire. May not a spark find its way into your home where it does not belong!!!!!!

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  3. I’m laughing and giggling as I read your post. I’m hunched over my computer that is sitting on an ornamental round top table, that has expanded metal as the table top. It was made in Mexico and purchased on a trip that Danny and I made many years ago. That was before we had 2 kiddos. My point is that we have something remotely common in that I have dealt with Spanish speaking venders, carpenters, plumbers and such since I married 50 years. My husband had a penchant for the Mexicans since he spoke Spanish. I just seem to gravitate to them as my carpenters but they do bare watching since they are known to cut corners when you are not looking. I say that with humor for when they are good at their craft they are very good.

    But back to the crux of your story. I’ll be dang, Lottie. If you’re not a good one for leaving us dangling.But that is the way you should be writing and you’e doing ann excellent job of it too.

    The flowers on the wall are simply beautiful. Were those already there or did you plant them. Also I love the tiles on the bedroom floor. Beautiful and the sconce on the wall, oh my- lovely! You did good lady when you found that casa.

    Now I must be off to go pay property taxes. I have no idea how much. I refused to look at the papers for fear I’d die of shock. Just kidding- sort of . 🙂

    Oh and I love all the pics that you have posted. I think the kitchen looks good. Especially the pot of food on the portable stove. Looks delectable.

    ~yvonne xxxx

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    1. As our story takes shape, I shall be writing about everything that has happened here since we arrived – nothing shall be left out! Even my husband’s toilet habits are not out of bounds! Yvonne, I’m sorry to say that those pretty flowers are not ours, I do covet them though and will try to do something similiar at our house. It was still like summer almost when we moved here so looking back at those photos is rather lovely, seeing the sun pouring in through the windows and the colours. It’s now quite cold, a bit dank and grey and we’ve had snow again. I love having the seasons back though so i’m not complaining, it’s just a rude shock to the system having cold hands and feet! I hope you will love the new kitchen when I post pictures of it, it’s very old-fashioned but very sweet. I’ve been badgering Pete to put up shelves for weeks……XXXXX

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  4. I can’t believe how matter of fact you are about everything Lottie, especially using a bucket outside in the middle of the night. Though it’s further to go I think the Irishman has the right idea. I know you’re going to turn this place into a palace and be very happy but finding your car is not where you parked it isn’t making happiness your greatest possibility right now. I hope the hand brake failed and it just rolled away a bit to safety. I’m waiting with bated breath to find out.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    1. That car of mine has got me in to serious trouble! What with the dad thing and now this – We do love it here, the house is sweet and a perfect size for us. I’m itching to get on with phase 2 now but I’ve got to be patient. As for me being matter of fact, I have to be otherwise I might go mad! haha! Huge Hugs right back at you XXXXX

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  5. Brings a whole new meaning to bucket list. Now the mystery of the disappearing car! Can’t wait for the next part. I think you changed your name to Cliff Hanger.

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    1. Ah, it’s only because I’m a drama queen! I could probably make a trip to the supermarket exciting if it needed to be! Thanks for your comment and follow and great to hear from you xx

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  6. Clap, clap…well done Lottie. What a charming house even without plumbing and wiring. Those tomatoes alone makes me look at real estate in your neck of Andalusia. The marigolds, another attraction. A bit of a worry is the missing car. Hope the Spanish are not as ‘ole’ when it comes to stealing.
    Irish seems remarkably cool sitting outside inspecting rare prints or works of art, is he?

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    1. The tomatoes! I’m so pleased that you picked up on the tomatoes, Gerard. There is a small garden at the front of the house and our lovely neighbours Paco and Antonia planted tomatoes in it earlier in the summer. When we arrived they were just getting to the end of their season but were still plentiful – practically everything I cooked for the first month had tomatoes in it, or on it. Then when we were just left with the green ones, 4 large buckets full, I made a ton of green tomato chutney which I’ve given out to various kind souls in the village. Antonia was not that impressed with it, she looked rather horrified when she smelt it and shocked that we use it to go with cheese and cold meats – she taught me how to make membrillo which I shall be writing about in a later post. Irish looks great, doesn’t he! He found a stash of old pictures, books and dare I say it some other things….he was looking through them in this photo.

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    1. You’ve nailed it! If it wasn’t so lovely here, I’d be much more impatient to get things fixed and done. This house has the most wonderful atmosphere, I think it’s always been filled with love. I’m such a damn romantic!

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  7. It may be missing a few mod cons Lottie but the house looks gorgeous. I noticed the tiles on the floor – cold in winter but I bet they’ll be fantastic in summer. I suspect the car has been taken away by mistake as a vehicle ‘believed abandoned’. Was Colin Snout involved, I wonder? Has he played a practical joke on you?

    As a retired low-finance chap my immediate thought for funding the renovations is to call yourself “China-Andalucia Arts & Crafts.com” and float on the Shanghai stock exchange. An IPO should raise a few hundred million and you can easily produce some convincing forecasts. I remember going to visit a firm of double glazing manufacturers 35 years ago. Run by 5 Irish brothers (true). They wanted to borrow money to ‘expand’ and I asked what their cash flow forecasts showed. The oldest brother paused for a moment and then with a straight face he asked me ‘what would you like them to show?’ This was known then in the trade as creative accounting. Nowadays all the fun has gone out of it and people call it fraud. Still, I think after a month or so of work you must be almost ready to float like a dot.com company. Remember the most important thing is not whether or not you are profitable but how fast you can burn through cash. The more and the faster the better. I think you should have it made. I’m certainly ready to invest.

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    1. Oh how I laughed reading about your money making schemes – I wish!!! Maybe China-Andalucia Arts & Crafts.com isn’t such a bad idea at all, I mean Pete is Irish (plastic) and we both have the gift of the gab, it could be a runner and times are hard.
      The motoring incident was pre Colin Snout. I have no doubt that if he had been here, he may well have had a paw in the events which followed….

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  8. Eeeee! What happened with your car?? Please don’t leave us hanging for too long, dear Lottie.

    And I must say, though your trip in the dead of night to the bucket sounds delightful (I mean, who doesn’t like to wake up to a conk on the head and a trip down the stairs? a great alternative to coffee!), I’m with Irishman on this one. Call me a wimp all you like and I’ll gladly accept the title. Seriously, I cannot imagine how my knees would get me down to the bucket, stay on the bucket, and harder to imagine, how would they get me back up. You’ve got marvelous knees that must love you without reservation.

    You had me in stitches with this post. “…for every step has been built for giants, and every door for dwarves.” Hysterical! Your photos are amazing. Are those flowers yours? Gosh they’re pretty. I especially love your photo of the bedroom. That light is really beautiful (those shutters! and the those tiles!! lovely, lovely, lovely). I really hope someone in Spain has the sense to snap you up for their tourism and real estate marketing purposes. xoxo

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    1. Merrie Skelley, oh how I love your name! well you will have the answer now as I’ve just posted the next instalment. I promise that if you were here you would quite understand what i mean by the ‘every step for a giant and every door for dwarf… i’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve whacked our heads or misjudged the steps! Now that we’ve been here 3 months we are a little better at negotiating our way round the house. So many stories to tell! XOXO

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  9. Lottie, you are a brave and adventurous soul. I’m in Indiana complaining about having to use a powder room while my main bathroom is being renovated,and you’re smiling will peeing in a bucket…outside! Of course, it’s zero degrees in my town today, so peeing outside just isn’t an option.

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    1. Lorijo, in future posts you will soon discover that peeing outside on a bucket soon lost its appeal! Hope your renovations are not too stressful and that you will soon have a lovely new bathroom. Great to hear from you xx

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  10. Hehe !! Hehe !! Hehe !! Hehe !! ad infintum………. The other commenters have said almost everything that I had planned to say (being in Spain I needed planning permission 😉 ). I am so pleased that I am following your blog Lottie as you are a great writer, full of humour and you tell a great story. If your car has British plates I can guess what happened, but knowing you it’s going to be a wacky tale 😉 Ralph xox 😀

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  11. Hola guapa! Not a day goes by that an adventure doesn’t swoop down and land on your front (giants’) step, does it? Like the others, I simply adore your bedroom, the breeziness, sunlight and romantic qualities.. I can almost hear your family and amigos gathered around on the terrace outside, sipping copious amounts of Rioja and gorging on tapas y empanadas. Oh, how sorry I am that I missed seeing you (and meeting Pete) in Andalucia. May your beautiful home and journey bring you much luck love and joy! xx

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    1. Amit, thank you. I’m glad you are enjoying our Iberian adventures. I’m longing for the summer now when we can sit outside and have those sort of meals and family times which you describe 😀 – I’m really sorry that we missed you too, it would have been such fun. Hope you are not too freezing and that life is good for you. Are you heading back to Bali soon? 😀

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  12. Love it. Who would think that getting up in the middle of the night to relieve ones self could be fraught with so much danger? I like best how you keep things in the moment and deal with setbacks. Yeah. No. I wondered if the handbrake had been left off and your latest post has confirmed this, dammit; I wanted the applause 🙂 Despite everything, the house and the landscape looks amazing, good for you x

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    1. Thank you, George 😀 It’s been challenging, there is no doubt about that but both Pete and I are very happy here and feel very settled. As I write more posts, all that has happened over the past few months will be revealed. I’ve noted down events and things that have happened so that I do not forget either the highs nor the lows (fortunately many more highs than lows!) xxx

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  13. Ooops sorry, I only glanced at the latest post 😦 So the handbrake was up, what a bummer! Does this mean that your dad is to blame? Anyway, it was decent of the bar lady to come to your defence. I hope Manolo is reasonable x

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    1. Nimby indeed!!! I actually love having the bottle bank so close to the house now. It’s so convenient for ‘me empties! Glad you are dangling with confidence!!! 😀

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